Product design ideas

Design and technology

Design and Technology is an inspiring, rigorous and practical subject. Using creativity and imagination, students design and make products that solve real and relevant problems within a variety of contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values. They acquire a broad range of subject knowledge and draw on disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art.

Students learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens. Through the evaluation of past and present design and technology, they develop a critical understanding of its impact on daily life and the wider world. High-quality design and technology education makes an essential contribution to the creativity, culture, wealth and well-being of the nation. 

In Design and Technology lessons, students will:

-      Develop the creative, technical and practical expertise needed to perform everyday tasks confidently and to participate successfully in an increasingly technological world.

-      Build and apply a repertoire of knowledge, understanding and skills in order to design and make high-quality prototypes and products for a wide range of users.

-      Critique, evaluate and test their ideas and products and the work of others. 

Understand and apply the principles of nutrition and learn how to cook.

Curriculum information


Learning outcomes

Topic 1 – Design Skills:Students begin their KS3 journey by learning how to communicate design ideas through a range of 2D drawing and rendering techniques. This then develops into 3D drawing and rendering which helps prepare students in presenting their ideas during ‘design and make’ challenges. 

Topic 2 – Time Challenge:This topic is designed with a focus on Timbers. Students learn how to explore a given context and identify the needs and wants of a user group through primary and secondary research. Analysis of research allows students to formulate a design brief and specification which directs design ideas for a new clock to ensure they are appropriate for the target audience. Students will complete a range of creative and innovative design ideas using design skills. During manufacture, we use a range of tools and equipment developing skills in cutting, abrading, drilling, surface preparation and surface finish (MDF). Students are also introduced to the principles of forming plastics with this use of jigs, moulds and templates to aid accuracy and repetition. Final outcomes are tested and evaluated against the specification to identify areas of strength and further development with suggested modifications.

Topic 3 – Darkness Challenge:This topic is designed with a focus on Electronics. Students are given a social and contextual challenge around ‘awareness in the dark’. Students will explore the problems, needs and opportunities around the context and develop a range of design ideas for potential products around the sports industry. Students will develop a prototype for a new piece of sporting equipment which can be used to raise awareness of a person in the dark using a range of modelling materials and equipment. Students will learn circuits and electrical components and the process of soldering onto a circuit board. The circuit board will be incorporated into the final prototype for product testing.

Topic 4 – Graphic Packaging Challenge: This topic is designed with a focus on Papers and Boards.Students will cover a range of sub-topics including branding; logo design; colour theory; typography; layout; nets and graphic materials. This will provide students with the knowledge and skills required to produce a piece of graphic packaging for a food item being produced in catering lessons.

Topics taught

Topic 1 - Design Skills:

  • 2D Drawing
  • Crating/Grids/Constructions
  • Tone and Rendering
  • Cabinet Oblique


Topic 2 - Time Challenge:

  • User/Client
  • Primary/Secondary Research
  • Design Brief/Specification
  • Mood board
  • Design Ideas/Annotating
  • Timbers
  • Cutting, Abrading, Drilling, Surface Preparation and Finish
  • Painting
  • Use of Jigs, Moulds and Templates
  • Line Bending
  • Testing and Evaluating a Final Product

Topic 3 - Darkness Challenge:

  • Exploring a Context
  • Social Issues
  • Design Ideas/Annotations
  • Modelling/Prototypes
  • Circuits, Electronics and Soldering
  • Product Testing


Topic 4 - Graphic Packaging Challenge:

  • 2D Drawing
  • Colour Theory
  • Typography
  • Branding and Logo Design
  • Layout
  • Nets
  • Packaging Requirements


Learning outcomes

Topic 1 – Design Skills:Students learn effective ways of communicating design ideas by focusing on the industry standard design technique of isometric projection. Students begin by completing a range of given shapes and progress to more complex organic shapes which require construction and crating method to be applied. Students begin by using an isometric grid and progress to plain paper with the use of a departmental tool called an Iso:Draw which was developed to help students draw in isometric. Students apply a range of tonal and rendering work to 3D designs.

Topic 2 – Small Storage Challenge: This topic is designed with a focus on Polymers. Students are encouraged to explore a small storage context within their household. Students expand of the problems, needs and opportunities found and produce independent research which explores the opportunities in further depth. This can include but is not limited to a user profile and interview, measuring, mood board, product analysis/disassembly. Students produce design ideas in isometric projection. Students are challenged to produce an exploded drawing of their final design to explain how manufacturing/assembly would be achieved. During the making stages, students are introduced to CAD/CAM and more specifically, 2D Design where they would produce the top and base sections with the use of a laser cutter. Students use vinyl to wrap the surface of old PVC piping and add decals. Students continue to develop cutting, abrading, drilling and surface finishing skills, this time with mild steel. The final product is tested and evaluated by the identified user.

Topic 3 – Gaming Challenge:This topic is designed with a focus on programmable components and systems. Gaming is a popular culture amongst young people. Students must explore the ever-expanding market of portable gaming and the opportunities it presents. The topic focuses around the programming of components, in this case a BBC MicroBit. Students will learn how to code their own game by applying knowledge of inputs, processes and outputs. The BBC MicroBit must be housed in a user centred casing. Students will explore anthropometrics and ergonomics before producing a prototype which is both comfortable and practical for portable gaming. Use of CAD/CAM, in this case, TinkerCAD and the 3D printer will help students explore and produce a range of organic 3D forms to maximise the ergonomic aspects of their design. User testing for comfort, enjoyment and practicality will form the basis of a final evaluation.

Topic 4 – Society and the Environment Challenge: This topic is designed with a focus on metals and structures.We begin by discussing problems in modern society and how we might solve these problems. This draws on issues such as raising populations and climate change. Students are given a localised context where they must design and make a bridge to bypass both central Newcastle and the costly Tyne Tunnel. Students are given a budget by the local council and can buy materials to build the bridge to the specifications they have set out in their design work. Together they must utilise knowledge of forces and stresses, structures and materials to complete the 600mm crossing, staying within budget. Students will use an iterative approach through testing, evaluating and redesigning throughout the challenge. Students score points for making the crossing, staying within budget and amount of weight held. 

Topics taught

Topic 1 - Design Skills:

  • Isometric Projection
  • Use of Isometric Grid
  • Use of Iso:Draw
  • Tone and Rendering
  • Thick/Thin Lines

Topic 2 - Small Storage:

  • Exploring a Local Context
  • Primary Research: User Interview/Key Measurements
  • Design Brief and Specification
  • Design Ideas/Exploded Views
  • CAD/CAM and 2D Design/Laser Cutting
  • Polymers
  • Measuring, Marking Out, QC and Tolerances 
  • Cutting, Abrading, Forming, Surface Preparation and Finish
  • Standard Components

Topic 3 - Gaming Challenge:

  • Anthropometrics and Ergonomics
  • Developing Existing Products
  • Mood board
  • Design Ideas
  • Modelling
  • Programmable Components/BBC MicroBit
  • Inputs/Processes/Outputs
  • Mechanical Devices
  • Coding a Programmable Component
  • 3D Printing

Topic 4 - Social and Environmental Challenge:

  • Exploring a Local Context
  • Structures
  • Metals
  • Budget/Costing Materials
  • Designer Collaboration
Iterative Design (Design/Test/Evaluate/Design/Test/Evaluate)


Learning outcomes

Topic 1 – Design Skills: Students will develop their 3D drawing skills by learning how to produce freehand 3D Design work using either Isometric or Perspective projection. The topic will challenge students to draw more complex 3D design work, including accurate tonal rendering where appropriate. Students will add dimensions to design work as well as detailed annotations. Students will learn about the work of others by exploring design work created by some of the world’s most iconic designers including Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Dieter Rams, Philippe Starck, as well as companies such as Primark, Apple and Dyson.

Topic 2 – Timbers:Areas explored include – Sources and origins of Timbers; Properties and applications; Extraction and conversion/processing; Environmental impact; Manufacturing Timber products including equipment, processes and specialist techniques and finishes. Students will learn skills with various tools and equipment in the workshop when undertaking a range of timber related practical activities including, wood joints, bending timber and use of standard components and fixings. The final outcome with be a scaled down piece of furniture.

Topic 3 – Polymers:Areas explored include – Sources and origins of Polymers; Properties and applications; Extraction, fractional distillation and polymerisation; Environmental impact; Manufacturing plastic products including equipment, processes and specialist techniques and finishes. Students will learn skills with various tools and equipment in the workshop when undertaking a range of plastic-related practical activities including, joining methods, bending, forming, moulding and use of standard components and fixings. The final outcome is an acrylic phone/tablet holder.

Topic 4 – Metals:Areas explored include: sources and origins of metals; properties and applications; extraction and processing; environmental impact; manufacturing metal products including equipment, processes and specialist techniques and finishes. Students will learn skills with various tools and equipment in the workshop when undertaking a range of metal-related practical activities including joining methods; bending; forming; casting and use of standard components and fixings. The final outcome is a range of jewellery pieces, including rings and pendants.

Topic 5 – New Materials:Students will learn about a range of smart, modern and composite materials and their impact on Design and Technology. Students will redesign and model existing products using a range of new materials to enhance their functional and aesthetic properties. 

Topic 6 – Developing Countries Challenge:Students will investigate problems that developing countries and their citizens face in their daily lives. They will explore the issues and identify needs and opportunities for products which would meet the needs of a chosen user. Students will explore the cultural issues around designing for people with different beliefs, religion and social norms. Students will produce a range of possibilities through design work, avoiding design fixation. Designs will be developed iteratively by applying on-going research and testing during the development stages, paired with rigorous modelling and re-design to produce a refined final idea which fully meets an earlier produced brief and design specification. Students will calculate materials needed and a final costing to budget the project in the form of a manufacturing specification. Students will utilise skills in the workshop from earlier projects to produce a final prototype which has the potential to be commercially viable. The product will be tested and evaluated fully to identify areas for further modification and potential for commercial manufacturing.

Topics taught

Topic 1  - Design Skills:

  • Isometric Projection
  • 1 and 2 Point Perspective
  • Freehand Drawing
  • Tone and Rendering with Texture
  • Design Page Layout
  • 3D CAD Modelling
  • The Work of Others

Topic 2 – Timbers:

  • Sources and Origins
  • Properties and Applications
  • Extraction and Conversion/Processing
  • Environmental Impact
  • Manufacturing Timber Products including Equipment, Processes and Specialist Techniques and Finishes.
  • Skills: Workshop Tools and Equipment including CAD/CAM (CNC Router/Lathe)
  • Measuring, Marking Out, QC and Tolerances 

Topic 3 – Polymers:

  • Sources and Origins
  • Properties and Applications
  • Extraction, Fractional Distillation and Polymerisation 
  • Environmental Impact
  • Manufacturing Plastic Products including Equipment, Processes and Specialist Techniques and Finishes.
  • Skills: Workshop Tools and Equipment, including CAD/CAM Laser Cutter
  • Measuring, Marking Out, QC and Tolerances 

Topic 4 – Metals:

  • Sources and Origins
  • Properties and Applications
  • Extraction
  • Environmental Impact
  • Manufacturing Metal Products including Equipment, Processes and Specialist Techniques and Finishes.
  • Skills: Workshop Tools and Equipment including Heat Treatment, Forging and Casting.
  • Measuring, Marking Out, QC and Tolerances 

Topic 5 – New Materials:

  • Smart Materials
  • Composites
  • Modern Materials

Topic 6 – Developing Countries

  • Exploring a Cultural and Economic Context
  • Social, Moral and Cultural Issues and Implications
  • Working with a Local Client to meet the needs of a Distant User.
  • Iterative Design Approach – Design/Evaluate/Test
  • Modelling/Development, including CAD/CAM
  • Producing a Prototype
  • Testing and Evaluating
Design and Technology is my favourite lesson because there is a huge variety of topics to cover which keeps things interesting. I enjoy the creative side of the subject and learning how to communicate my ideas through drawing, modelling and making. I have a particular interest in environmental issues and comi...
Year 9 student


Learning outcomes

Topic 1 – Technical Design Skills: Students will apply prior knowledge of design skills when learning how to construct working and exploded drawings. Students will learn how products are designed for assembly. Disassembly of existing products and producing drawings to communicate the assembly process helps students understand how their own designs would be manufactured. 

Topic 2 – Design Implications:Students learn to consider a range of user groups when designing, including children, people with disabilities and the elderly. Students will explore a range of social, moral and cultural issues and consider how to design inclusively and exclusively to meet the needs of an individual or a broader target market. Students will consider the changing world and product development including planned obsolescence.

Topic 3 – Energy and the Environment:Students learn the various ways in which we gather and produce energy, including fossil fuels, nuclear and renewables. Students will explore the range of pros and cons for the various types of energy and investigate the future of energy production and the problems it possesses, including the use of batteries. Climate change is explored in greater depth with discussion around the causes, implications and global responsibilities to ensure we do not exceed the targets set in the 2016 Paris Agreement. 

Topic 4 – Eco Housing Challenge: Students will use their knowledge from prior topics to investigate and present solutions to sustainable living. Students are provided with a ‘plot’ within our sustainable village and must utilise local sources of energy and building materials to work with. Each student is required to produce a Design Specification suitable for their plot, then design and make a prototype eco-home suitable for futuristic sustainable living. This unit of work gives students the opportunity to develop their modelling skills, looking specifically at scaled architectural models. Students will draw on inspiration from other designers and information found in the research stages to complete the task successfully.

Topic 5 – Contemporary Lighting Challenge:Students will investigate issues surrounding modern living, including fast fashion and keeping up with trends with minimal expense. Students will design a range of modern, contemporary lighting solutions for a modern home. Students most develop their ideas using a range of CAD and 3D modelling techniques before producing a final manufacturing specification with exploded/working drawings of their product. Students will use knowledge and skills from all topics and units throughout their Design and Technology journey to manufacture a commercially viable lighting solution for a modern home. This will include designing and making a working circuit with incorporated switch of their choosing. The product will be fully tested and evaluated throughout the designing, development and manufacturing stages and tested with the user upon completion. This task is designed to help students prepare for the impending NEA portion of their GCSE course.

NEA – Section A: Identifying and investigating design possibilities (10 marks)

By analysing the contextual challenge students will identify design possibilities, investigate client needs and wants and factors including economic and social challenges. Students should also use the work of others (past and/or present) to help them form ideas. Research should be concise and relate to their contextual challenge. Students are also advised to use a range of research techniques (primary/secondary) in order to draw accurate conclusions. Students should be encouraged to investigate throughout their project to help inform decisions.

Topics taught

Topic 1 – Technical Design Skills:

  • Exploded Drawings
  • Working Drawings
  • Product Analysis
  • Product Disassembly

Topic 2 – Design Implications

  • Industry and Enterprise
  • Social Issues
  • Cultural Issues
  • Moral Implications
  • Planned Obsolescence
  • User Centered Design
  • Design for Maintenance
  • Production Techniques and Systems

Topic 3 – Energy and the Environment

  • Global Warming
  • Fossil Fuels
  • Nuclear
  • Renewables
  • Batteries and Power Storage
  • Product Evolution

Topic 3 – Eco-Home

  • Sustainability of Materials and Resources
  • Eco-Materials
  • Eco-Features
  • Design Brief and Specification
  • Scaled Modelling

Topic 4 – Contemporary Lighting

  • Primary and Secondary Research
  • The Work of Others
  • Fast Fashion and Impact on the Environment
  • Design Ideas/Annotation
  • Development/Modelling (Incl CAD)
  • Manufacturing Specification
  • Costing of Materials
  • Prototype Production
  • Manufacturing Diary
  • Testing and Evaluating


Learning outcomes

NEA – Section B: Producing a design brief and specification (10 marks)

Based on conclusions from their investigations, students will outline design possibilities by producing a design brief and design specification. Students should review both throughout the project.

NEA – Section C: Generating design ideas (20 marks)

Students should explore a range of possible ideas linking to the contextual challenge selected. These design ideas should demonstrate flair and originality and students are encouraged to take risks with their designs. Students may wish to use a variety of techniques to communicate. Students will not be awarded for the quantity of design ideas, but how well their ideas address the contextual challenge selected. Students are encouraged to be imaginative in their approach by experimenting with different ideas and possibilities that avoid design fixation.

In the highest band, students are expected to show some innovation by generating ideas that are different to the work of the majority of their peers or demonstrate new ways of improving existing solutions.

NEA – Section D: Developing design ideas (20 marks)

Students will develop and refine design ideas. This may include, formal and informal 2D/3D drawing including CAD, systems and schematic diagrams, models and schedules. Students will develop at least one model, though marks will be awarded for the suitability of the model(s) and not the quantity produced.

Students will also select suitable materials and components communicating their decisions throughout the development process. Students are encouraged to reflect on their developed ideas by looking at their requirements, including how their designs meet the design specification. Part of this work will then feed into the development of a manufacturing specification, providing sufficient accurate information for third party manufacture; using a range of appropriate methods, such as measured drawings; control programs; circuit diagrams; patterns; cutting or parts lists.

NEA - Section E: Realising design ideas (20 marks)

Students will work with a range of appropriate materials/components to produce prototypes that are accurate and within close tolerances. This will involve using specialist tools and equipment, which may include hand tools, machines or CAM/CNC. The prototypes will be constructed through a range of techniques, which may involve shaping, fabrication, construction and assembly. The prototypes will have suitable finish with functional and aesthetic qualities, where appropriate. Students will be awarded marks for the quality of their prototype(s) and how it addresses the design brief and design specification based on a contextual challenge.

NEA – Section F: Analysing and evaluating (20 marks)

Within this iterative design process, students are expected to continuously analyse and evaluate their work, using their decisions to improve outcomes. This should include defining requirements, analysing the design brief and specifications along with the testing and evaluating of ideas produced during the generation and development stages. Their final prototype(s) will also undergo a range of tests on which the final evaluation will be formulated. This should include market testing and a detailed analysis of the prototype(s).

Topics taught

Link to exam specification
Design and Technology is my favourite lesson because there is a huge variety of topics to cover which keeps things interesting. I enjoy the creative side of the subject and learning how to communicate my ideas through drawing, modelling and making. I have a particular interest in environmental issues and comi...
Year 9 student